Today, we should be celebrating the selfless actions of 26-year-old Jemel Roberson. Instead, we are mourning his tragic death and feeling the overwhelming pain of outrage at those responsible for it.
He was working his job as a security guard when two armed men entered Manny’s Blue Room Bar in Chicago. He didn’t have to get involved. But Roberson put himself at risk and pinned one of the assailants to the ground.
And then something truly horrible happened.
When police arrived, they opened fire on Roberson, killing an innocent man.
"Everybody was screaming out, 'Security!' He was a security guard," witness Adam Harris told WGN. "And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him."
The story is becoming a painful reminder to the nation of just how far we still have to go in combating the deadly intersection between law enforcement and race.
Roberson’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover his funeral costs.
But the larger narrative of police violence is sadly certain to be the tragic legacy of the life of a young man murdered by those sworn to serve and protect their community.
For their part, the police department has remained largely silent on Roberson’s death, simply releasing a statement acknowledging that one of the two police officers on the scene opened fire on him, killing him.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the State Police Public Integrity Task Force are both investigating the incident but it’s hard to expect any different result than a narrative we’ve seen play out far too many times.
"Once again, it’s the continued narrative that we see of shoot first, ask questions later," the Rev. LeAundre Hill of Purposed Church told WGN.